Sizewell B boss insists that nuclear site is safe

THE man in charge of Sizewell nuclear power station has sought to reassure the community over the plant's safety.

Anti-nuclear groups have raised concerns following the earthquake and tsunami which struck north-east Japan last month. It has caused radiation to leak from the Fukushima nuclear plant and a mass evacuation of the area.

Jim Crawford, station director at Sizewell B, said he was aware of people's concerns but insited that safety measures on the Suffolk site were second to none. He said the plant had 'layer upon layer' of back up systems ready to spring into action should there be a failure.

These include four on-site diesel generators to cool the reactor if power is lost from the National Grid, large battery generators, nitrogen based cooling systems that require no electricity and giant flood defences.

Mr Crawford said the plant was designed to cope with a 1-in-10,000-year event - and even then this had been over calculated to ensure no chances were taken.

The site also sloped away from the sea to encourage water to run away should there be any breach of the sea defences, he said. Meanwhile instead of being grouped together, generators are located in different areas of the site so that if one fails due to something like a lightning strike the others will not be affected.

Staff are also given training courses every six weeks while there are regular meetings with local authorities and emergency services to discuss safety plans. Monitors inside and outside the plant also pick up any traces of radiation.

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'We have back-up systems for the back-up systems,' Mr Crawford said. 'The only time we use most of them is when we test that they are working properly – it's vital we know they can be relied upon.

'Many people are not aware of the safety measures in place. It it is up to us to provide those facts so people can make their own judgement.

'A huge amount of effort has gone into the design of the site. All the systems will respond to faults on the plant no matter what causes them – a natural disaster, mechanical failure or a terrorist attack. I'm very proud of our safety record.

'We are aware of our responsibility. We are never complacent. The reactor at Fukushima is different to Sizewell's but we expect to learn some lessons.'

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